Nor'easter and pharmacy confusion hamper COVID-19 vaccine rollout
The recent nor'easter and confusion about the number of supplies at pharmacies are hampering the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
The storm blew two days' worth of vaccine appointments off the calendar, creating another delay on top of weeks of confusion over the state's website listing pharmacies that were supposed to carry the COVID-19 vaccine.
Gary Langstein is a pharmacist at Prescription Center in Tallman. He says he found out in early January that his mom-and-pop business was one of only three vaccination locations in Rockland County listed on the state's website by people who showed up at the pharmacy's door.
"Putting us on that state website that morning and only providing us with 100 doses - that was interesting," he says.
His story has played out across New York over the past few weeks.
"The phones just blew up," says Michael Nastro, of Fairview Pharmacy & Homecare Supply.
The Long Island pharmacy owner is questioning the chaos created when the state listed pharmacies with little to no vaccines.
"It could have been planned out better," Nastro
News 12 received hundreds of emails and phone calls from viewers frustrated by the state’s COVID-19 vaccination appointment booking process. Many people showed up at pharmacies with high hopes.
Five days after opening vaccine eligibility to those 65 or older, the state then removed pharmacies from the state's COVID-19 vaccine providers list.
So where do people find the list of local pharmacies giving out the shot? News 12 had to drill down to the county level.
Westchester County posts updated lists of vaccine locations and their allocations online. Over in Rockland, vaccination locations were just posted this week. Officials say they have been requesting this information from the state for weeks.
Rockland County Executive Ed Day says he is particularly concerned about the elderly and emphasized in a statement: "We need to know where vaccine is going so we can properly assist residents as they seek appointments…"
"Some pharmacies are only able to get 100 doses so we know this, we have a very targeted strategy, but it's based on us getting a certain number of vaccines," said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Although News 12 reached the governor's office, it did not say if there was a vetting process to ensure pharmacies listed as vaccine providers had supplies. A spokesperson did say, "We're asking them (pharmacies) to only schedule appointments if they have enough vaccines to fill those appointments."
"We have close to 2,000 people on our list," says Nastro.
The long list includes 85-year-old Cornelia Frydman, who said she is '"going insane" because she's gone to every pharmacy near her Airmont home and still doesn't have a vaccine appointment.
She now needs to wait behind people who got bumped from their appointments because of the storm.
News 12 also checked with neighboring counties to see if they have lists of vaccination locations. Orange County officials tell News 12 the state has not provided them that information. Over in Dutchess, there is a list on the county's website.
The state says people should book appointments for vaccines directly with pharmacies, but pharmacies have long waiting lists and it will take time to work through.